The Ontario Poetry Society
~ Ted Plantos Dedication ~

About TOPS








Members' Poetry


Ted Plantos







and don't forget to visit the:
Hugh Garner People's Prose Award!

My farewell for Ted by: Bunny Iskov

     I feel very lucky to have known Ted Plantos. He was my friend and he was my mentor. Ted's passion for writing and publishing was a gift he shared with everyone he knew. Not only did Ted have his own wonderful books published, he also helped to promote and publish other writers, especially new poets. He developed and created the People's Poetry Letter, which encompassed a readership world-wide. He single-handedly instrumented and designed the Literary Network News - an on-line e-zine. And on top of that, he introduced poets to other poets through The Top Ten Poetry Book List. Writers could log on to Ted's website and discover poets and poetry. His hard work and devotion to the spoken word earned him the distinction of Life Membership with The Ontario Poetry Society.
      When I told Ted that I wanted him to be TOPS first Life Member, he said, "Bunny, how do you expect to make any money if you make everyone a Life Member?" Ted was the catalyst to my own personal achievements in poetry. The last thing he wrote for me, was the introduction for my first full collection of poems, being published later this year by Snowapple Press. Ted's pursuit of literary perfection sometimes cut him off from his colleagues and friends. But when he wasn't in his "hermit crab" state, he was a warm and caring individual who would spend hours on the phone discussing everything from food preparation to politics. There is, and always will be, a huge gap in the literary world and in my world.
     His gentleness, his kindness, his enthusiasm, his sense of humour and his wit and intelligence will be sorely missed. The Ontario Poetry Society, in recognition of Ted's life work and accomplishments, has established The Ted Plantos Memorial Seed Money Fund. This new program will enable individuals and small groups to apply for a nominal fee, in order to promote Canadian poets - to be heard and to be read.

poems & tributes for ted plantos

Ted's Long Waking
(in memory of Ted Plantos)
by: I.B. Iskov

sitting in a Muskoka chair
on the lotus coast
Ted built frescoes
under a strawberry smacked sun
inhaled music
and beer from Old Niagara

foaming over the rim
in darkness and the coming dawn
he breathed stars in timeless orbits
carnivorous rhythms
strobed the dance floor

songs of the fishermen, the sea
howled in his head for days
the early sermons composed
in a swallowed fire
waiting for a leaf to fall

on solid footing he climbed splintered fences
through ashes and disjointed drain systems
he devoured smoke
like a contradiction
knowing the streets were hungry

rushes of breath stuck between eyes
and flesh mushroomed into naked clouds
the moist white
flowers wavered
over old bent rough bark
his shoulders
two serpent columns
groaned with the wind
through stone and snow
of departed days.

Lament for a Toronto poet.
Poem for ted

Funeral of Ted Plantos 
Feb 23/01 by Harry Rudolfs

Ted wrote a book of poems once, in the 60's

good as anything he wrote, but today
it ends at Sherbourne and Earl
the funeral has been moved hurriedly
north of Wellesley to Our Lady of Lourdes
and set back to 10:30
more than a couple of people look like Ted
an old priest with a good gray beard
but no skyward-arching eyebrows
or lion's stare behind thick glasses
and another man, who beards well and has his girth
and Edward his son
bill bissett in a funny hat does not count
but I do count the poets in the guest book
John B. Lee from Brantford was at the visitation
but is not here now, lots of poets nonetheless
(a couple I might have kissed)
thankful that I didn't see him waxy-looking
and pumped with formaldehyde
but found his poem last night
"Released from Wawa,"
and came to see the poet in the box
the priests ring bells and wave incense
turn him over to undertakers
who wheel him onto Sherbourne
glad he's going to Mt. Pleasant cemetery
a good place for resting poets and squirrels
the last two lines of his poem are:
"I must find an unfinished publisher
When I am released from Wawa."

Yeah, Ted, you do that.

poem for ted

"Dan Johnson"
as i walk down Sherbourne St.
i wonder where
: you used to stop for a coffee
or at which corner store
you would buy a pack of cigarettes.

the footage is
black & white & grainy.
i am a still photograph,
searching Cabbagetown
for salvation.

i pass Carlton, Gerrard, Dundas;
wait at Queen
and read a book of poetry.
time is roundabout,
it becomes 1977;
i am not yet born
but i sit on the corner
with the light on my shoulder.
you pass by,
notebook in hand,

i recognize your moustache
(much darker than the reality i knew)
but it's you.

i could have mistaken you for Jesus,
but i saw the poem in your hand.
i hum an Elvis tune,
your white t-shirt
rippling in the wind
as i follow you
over the edge of the

Published in Poemata and SEEDS 5.

The Two-Winter Year
(for Ted Plantos, 1943-2001)
by: John B. Lee

though I have mostly lived in the world
one winter at a time
I lost a little of the summer
in the lower latitudes of Africa
seeking in the dead-grass season
those less-of-the-light dog days
when i was a serious distance from home
too far away to shout
the snow the way a vacant barn
might shout white-minded words
when the weather's real
with non-ethereal things
and the yard is sacralizing itself
like altar linen washed
when the bishop visits his oaken chair.
And what will I make
of the many deaths I have known
since August caught me
out of temper with familiar times?
What will I make
of heaven's stellar strangeness
lost under that ancient navigator's cross
with too many friends gone down to the grave
since then, where the wet clay slumps
on the spade
and is heavier for that
water-lined and rain-worried monument.
I am thinking how as a boy
on the farm
I dug till sorrow
welled and leaked
and ankled me
like a sweat mark on my boots
and stones ground against steel
refusing a walk-down
and skidding the sharp-faced skill
so the shovel's handle shocked me
and I stood
a little taller, all my weight
too light to purchase a further inch
while the root-work of a thirsty field
consoled my shoulder
and my eyes sank below the sod
in the shadow's labour
and the hill beside the hole
grew restless waiting to receive its death
and skidded earth enough
to seed a single wheat.
I am in particular
thinking how the double winter
bestoned so many of our poets
we have lived a book-wealthy spring
since then though I have felt the silent darkness
as a doctor does
listening for the hideous absence
of breath
so he might declare
a widow's solitude an orphan's loss
a lonesome friendlessness
to the approximating clock
of a quiet dusk
and wordless moon.

Ted Goes Home
(In Memoriam)
by: Sheila Hyland

Ted was
At Home on Earth
The Quiet Neighbours
remember him
Moon Shell & Periwinkle
With a Squid Thrown In
He loved Weeds
Some Fungus
Speckled Jellyfish
otters & Gulls
And most of all
The Ancient Tortoise

Watching The Insect Picnic
in the cabbage patch one day
he heard a Train Whistle
and decided to go
for A Day at The Beach --
he collected Jingle Shells...

When the tide came in
There was water everywhere
But he stayed to watch
The Gulls at Dinner
then by the light of
A Jellyfish Moon
he boarded the train
and went home.

Remembering Ted Plantos by Terry Barker


People’s poetry and the Toronto and Canadian literary scenes have recently lost a very good friend, strong ally, and largely unsung hero – lifelong poet, poetry impresario, editor, publisher, mentor, and colourful man of letters about town, Ted Plantos. Ted, who dies Feb. 20, 2001 after a brief illness, was a founding member of, and tireless organizer for, the Canadian Poetry Association, recently serving as its President. He also co-founded, and largely ran, People’s Poetry Letter and founded and edited The Literary Network News, an on-line international publication for writers. Recently, too, he was closely associated with the work and activities of the Art Bar Poetry Reading Series and The Ontario Poetry Society. Ted had been equally busy with poetry and poetics in previous years. In 1986 he founded te still-continuing annual Milton Acorn Memorial People’s Poetry Award (now called the Acorn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry), and before that he had been the co-founder of Poetry Canada Review and the founding publisher and editor of Cross-Canada Writer’s Quarterly which flourished for over a decade. Ted’s most successful book-publishing venture was as associate (with Milton Acorn , Robin Mathews, and others) in Steel Rail Educational Publishing, the Left Nationalist successor organization to the Canadian Liberation Movement, which produced poetry, historical studies, and books on Canadian culture and politics, and inspired a small political party, the National Party, which actually ran candidates in Toronto and Ottawa in a federal election. At the back of all this, was Ted’s decades-long promotion and management of the Toronto Public Libraries’ Reading Series, as an outgrowth of this youthful enthusiasm for poetry’s oral expression at the Parliament Street Branch. Over the years, the TPL Reading Series put him in touch with virtually every poet (and poetaster) who lived in Toronto or visited the city, many of whom have gone on to prominence. Ted wrote and published eleven books of poetry, a children’s book, a collection of short stories, and numerous essays, reviews, and editorials (as well as caring for a house and family in partnership with his wife May). It will be as a People’s Poet par excellence that Ted will be primarily remembered.

(From Beyond Bethune, Synaxis Press, Dewdney, B.C., 2006 174pp, $30
I.S.B.N. 919-67246-9)

If you want to buy the book, it is available in Toronto at Humber College Bookstore, Lakeshore Campus, 3199 Lakeshore Blvd. West at 23rd St., Longbranch, Etobicoke, Toronto Call 416-675-6622 Ext. 3236 for hours. Or you can e-mail the publisher at synaxis@orthodoxcanada.org.

I think Ted should be widely remembered and honoured. After all, Ted:

1.  Ran the Toronto Public Libraries¹ reading series at the House on Gerrard for eight years (1970 - Œ77). Many of his featured readers were leading People¹s Poets.

2.  Led People¹s Poetry workshops (weekly) for Toronto Public Libraries at the House on Gerrard (1970 - Œ77).

3.  Co-founded and ran Old Nun Publications (1972 - Œ75). Published People¹s Poetry books/chapbooks as well as Old Nun Magazine.

4.  Edited and published Cross-Canada Writers¹ Magazine (was Quarterly) from 1978 - ? (I think, but am not sure, 1991).

5.  Edited and published Poems for Sale in the Street (Steel Rail, 1979), an anthology of People¹s Poetry.

6.  Helped found the Canadian Poetry Association (later an officer of same) in January 1985. Although the CPA is open to every sort of poet, ALL of its founding members were People¹s Poets or had come out of that literary movement.

7.  Established and ran the Milton Acorn Memorial People¹s Poetry Award (1987 - present).

8.  Edited and published People¹s Poetry Letter (1993 - present).

9.  Established and ran the People¹s Poem Contest and the People¹s Political Poem Contest in conjunction with People¹s Poetry Letter.

10.  Edited Not to Rest in Silence (UnMon America, 1996), a chapbook of People¹s Poetry.

11.  Befriended Milton Acorn, who often needed befriending.

So Ted started out as a poetry activist in 1970. Three entire decades of hard work for poetry and for his fellow poets! No one did more.


    . . . James

Mekler & Deahl, Publishers



And a further thanks to all who participated in the Tribute Reading:

April 14, 2002

Dear Poets,

Thank you for helping make the Ted Plantos Celebration a success. I
spoke to May afterwards and she was pleased. And I am sure that Ted was
pleased, too. Of course he was no doubt a tad embarrassed. Ted was always
much better at promoting the writings of others; not so good at putting
himself forward. But he will simply have to get used to folks praising him
and his poetry and his fiction.

Ted was not just a Toronto writer 100 percent, he was a Cabbagetown
writer. In a way Ted was like Raymond Sourter, whose work he admired. Ray is
a Toronto poet 100 percent, but his turf is Bloor West Village, not
Cabbagetown. In my view, if there were ever to be an anthology of poetry for
and about Toronto, Ray and Ted would be its stars.

It is therefore sad that not one bookshop in Toronto has a single copy
of any of Ted¹s books on its shelves. (Actually, they do not have any of
mine, either, but I never did for Toronto what Ted did.) And although Ted
wrote so many truly fine poems - several being read at the library yesterday
- his poetry is in none of the standard anthologies used in our schools,
colleges, and universities. These anthologies, so widely read by students of
CanLit, include books published by Oxford, Penguin, McClelland & Stewart,
General/Stoddart, Academic Press, Gage, Doubelday Canada, and Longman.

The truth is that only three anthologies - that¹s right, only three -
included poems by Ted. The one I published, Mix Six, five o¹clock shadows,
published by Letters Bookshop, and We Stand on Guard, Poems and Songs of
Canadians in Battle. Mix Six is, of course, still in print, but I do not
know about the other two.

One could, in fact, get an honours degree in creative writing from York
University and never hear the name of Ted Plantos.

I feel that we poets who so admire and value Ted¹s writing should work
to place his poetry before the public. If we fail to keep his work alive, no
one else will.

On behalf of May, who, as you may be aware, is a rather shy woman, I
thank you for helping celebrate an amazing man and an amazing writer.


. . . James

james@meklerdeahl.com - http://www.meklerdeahl.com
For Ted - George Swede
(First Light, First Shadows, Snapshot Press, 2006)

Burial of a friend—
in spite of myself
I marvel at
the yellow butterfly
against the blue sky